Friday, August 1, 2014

26. Mis-Speaks in the Bible?

Mr Qualben in A History of the Christian Church writes, But of the entire Old Testament, only the first eleven chapters are primarily concerned with the early history of the world, or of mankind in general. The remainder of the Old Testament is mainly a record of the founding and development of the Theocratic People, Israel.

It is in that light that we should view the Old Testament; as a book of prose, allegory and history.  Even though the Bible is, in some sense, a supernatural book, we really must drop the idea that the Bible is absolutely perfect and without contradictions.

It was only about a generation ago that many fundamentalist groups still believed that the King James Version was the only right version of the Bible and that it was absolutely word-perfect.  The idea that Christ would speak in allegories (unless he said so), or that He would use hyperboles was not acceptable.  They believed that the Bible means what it says - period. 

I know this to be true because I was brought up in that school of thought.  When a mistake was found in the KJV, the Bible student who pointed it out was discredited and probably shamed by those who hold the "perfect Bible" view, rather than accepting the idea that humans, while writing the Bible, could have created errors, used hyperboles or spoken allegories.

Here is an example of what Bible commentators do to insist on the stance that the Bible is absolutely "word perfect".

And he said to them: I am one hundred and twenty years old today. I can no longer go out and come in. Deut. 31:1-2 NJKV. 

However, note Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished. Deut. 34:7

If these two opposing statements were found anyplace else than in the Bible, of course, we would all insist that the author got his facts mixed up.  Theologians who insist that the Bible is perfect have designed ingenious ways of manipulating these words so that they do not mean what they so blatantly say.

Several commentaries I checked simply omitted saying anything about 31:1-2. Was it because they knew that it contradicted 34:7?  The general trend, though, is to say that Moses meant that since he was not allowed to enter the promised land he could no longer lead the nation. Very pointedly, Moses says, I am one hundred and twenty years old now, and can no longer come and go as I will.  Obviously, his statement had nothing to do with him not entering the promised land, he simply meant, I am too old and tired.

Note a few other contradictions in the Bible:

1. all the livestock of Egypt died; Ex. 9:6. 
  • Later in the same story, we have these words, Therefore send now and gather your livestock. Ex. 9:19.  
  • And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, ... and smote both man and beast; Ex. 9:25.  
  • Later still, in the story, we are given this information, and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, ... and all the firstborn of the animals. Ex. 11:5.  
  • The statement is they shall die, future tense after we have been told that they are all dead already.
2. And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a pot and put an omer of manna in it, ... As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, (tablets of the law - The Jerusalem Bible) to be kept. Ex. 16:33-34.

The problem with this statement is that The Law was not given till later, in Exodus 20, so Aaron could not have put the pot of manna next to the (tablets of the law).

Later on, in the history of Israel, we find this revelation. Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 1 Kings 8:9.  

Whatever happened to the pot of manna?  The writer of Hebrews contradicts the statement in 1 Kings 8:9: the ark of the covenant ... in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.

3. The seventh lot came out for the tribe of the children of Dan according to their families. And the territory of their inheritance was Zorah, (etc). And the border of the children of Dan went beyond these, ... They called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father. Joshua 19:40-48.  

According to the book of Joshua they received their inheritance at that time, but many years later, the Bible says, And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance for itself to dwell in; for until that day their inheritance among the tribes of Israel had not fallen to them. Judges 18:1.

4. Then the Lord appeared to him. Gen. 18:1.  The word, Lord, is translated as, Yahweh.

Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel. Ex. 24:9.

I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” Isa. 6:1+5.  The first time that the word, Lord, is used here, the Hebrew word is, Adonay, and Strong #136 tells us that it is used as a proper name of God only"; the second time that the word, Lord, is used, the translation is, Yahweh.  Let's not try to make the scene less majestic than Isaiah saw it.  He saw the Lord, Jehovah!

In contradiction to all these statements Saint John writes:
No one has seen God at any time. John 1:18.
Not that anyone has seen the Father. John 6:46.
No one has seen God at any time. 1 John 4:12.

Divine guidance in writing the Scriptures is not to be equated with manipulation of the scribes so as to create a word-perfect manuscript.  To believe that the Bible is without error, or that proverbs, similes and hyperboles were not used in the Bible, is to close one's mind to clear evidence of the use of those tools in the Bible.  Admitting that errors, similes, hyperboles, etc are found in the Bible is not the same as saying that the Bible is not, in some way, inspired by God. 

Some might argue and say that the Bible must be perfect because Saint Peter wrote, holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:23.  The argument being, if they spoke as they were moved by God's spirit, the Bible must be perfect, since God's spirit is perfect.

In this regard, though, it should be noted that the words, as they were, are in italics, which is the translator's way of saying, these words actually do not belong in the text.  Of the ten different translations checked, only the King James and the New King James versions include those words.  Other translations have words with this meaning, Holy people spoke when they were guided by God's spirit.  It does not say, as they were moved but rather when they were moved.

That change is important because it means that the writers were still at liberty to make mistakes, however, since they were holy men of God they did their best to "get it right".  

The point, here, being, that Jehovah did His part in writing the Bible perfectly, but when one considers what He used for writers, it should not surprise us if the Bible fell somewhat short of what Jehovah had intended.

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